Recipe: Salad of Broad Beans, Bocconcini and Ancient Grains
Broad beans are a cool climate crop really well suited to our region and they mark a very exciting passage of the seasons. Growing through the winter and arriving before the heat of summer, these ancient beans (also known as fava beans) are native to Europe and have been enjoyed both fresh and dried for millennia.
Best eaten when they’re small, tender and bursting with flavour, broad beans have a distinctive nutty taste and firm texture. The beans should be podded from their velvety jackets before eating, and the larger ones will need to be freed from the pale (bitter) skin that covers each individual bean. If you have access to the actual plant, the leaves and flowers make delicious salad ingredients as well.
Beans and grains bring the body and substance to this versatile salad, highlighted by the fresh cheese, but in springtime fresh broad beans are the tasty little gems that make this dish sing.
- ½ cup dried cannellini beans, soaked in water overnight
- ½ cup pearl barley, spelt or farro
- ½ cup buckwheat
- 1 cup broad beans, podded
- 1 cup bocconcini, strained and marinated in salt, pepper and olive oil
- 2 tb chopped parsley
- 1 tb chopped tarragon
For the dressing:
- 1 tb honey
- 1 tsp mustard
- 100ml tarragon (or whtite wine) vinegar
- 50 ml extra virgin olive oil
- 300ml vegetable oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Strain the beans, bring to the boil in unsalted water and cook gently until soft and then season them. This may take up to a couple of hours so you might want to cheat and use a can of cooked beans.
- Separately, boil the pearl barley in salted water until softened, about 40 minutes.
- Also in a separate pot, boil the buckwheat for 12 minutes.
- Allow the cannellini beans, barley and buckwheat to cool to near room temperature before straining
- At the last minute drop the broad beans into boiling salted water for just 30 seconds before removing them and adding to the mix.
- Toss well with the chopped herbs and dress liberally with the honey vinaigrette.